“The inability for anything to go like clockwork was the inspiration for the album title,” frontman Josh Homme laughed. “It’s because an inside joke; we’d have these great victories and then something would go south for a bit, and we’d go ‘It’s like clockwork!’ I think a sick sense of humor is what’s always been our preservation mechanism, so this time, we’re using that sick sense of humor for a title.”
Of course, Homme wouldn’t go into specifics about the drama surrounding Clockwork’s recording — though he previously compared making it to “waking up in the middle of nowhere” — though, from the sound of things, there were both personal and musical difficulties involved, as the Queens strove to reinvent both their band and their sound on their first album in nearly six years.
“There were so many things involved with making this; some of them were emotionally driven, some were sonically driven,” he sighed. “We definitely took our rulebook and ripped it up, then frantically tried to put it back together to read some of those rules again.”
Of course, there was one page of the book that they never tore up: QOTSA’s time-honored tradition of collaboration. Old friends like Dave Grohl — “He’s a good guy and a great drummer,” Homme said — and Trent Reznor make appearances on the new album, though it’s the return of another former associate, bassist Nick Oliveri, that’s made the most headlines. Ever since Oliveri was fired from the Queens in 2004, fans have clamored for his return to the band, and journalists have worked overtime to pit Homme against his longtime musical partner.
But, in a recording process so fraught with trouble, it turns out that reuniting with Oliveri turned out to be the easiest — and most rewarding — thing Homme had done in a long time.
“Collaborations look much different to an outsider than they are for us on the inside. Nick and I have been friends since a couple weeks after everything went down. People don’t know that, and it would be awkward for me to run around making sure everyone knew it,” Homme said. “Nick recorded his new record at my studio, and then he was going to drop off some records and he said ‘Hey, need anyone to sing backup?’ And I was like ‘Actually, yeah, come on in.’ It’s that causal, and that’s a nice thing. It was easy. It’s nice to know someone since you were a little kid, and still know them.”
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